I am very frequently asked by people, “Where is the most haunted place in the world?” My answer is always the same, “If any place is haunted, it’s the Earth.”
Now, although many people think that I am trying to be funny, which I am, I am also being serious. So, let’s try a little thought experiment.
If ghosts are what people generally believe them to be, the remaining energy/consciousness of a human being who has died, then each person could potentially become a ghost when they pass out of this realm.
I’m bad with math but I can make this easy on myself and you…so hold on.
Since human beings have been “human beings”, (we’ll just go with the genus Homo which will put us around 2 million years ago), estimates of population would show that approximately 75 to 105 billion have been born and died on planet Earth. Now, let’s say that some “ghosts” have passed on and or perhaps never became ghosts; I’ll be generous here and say that out of the 100 billion deaths 85% either never became ghosts or are ghosts that have moved into a different existence that doesn’t interact with us on Earth. That leaves us with approximately 15 billion ghosts still residing with us on this planet.
Now that we know we might have as many as 15 billion “ghostly” friends wandering around we need to look at where they could be. The total land surface area of Earth is about 57 million square miles, of which about 57% is uninhabitable leaving us with about 15 billion acres of land.
See why I was so generous by saying 85% of the ghosts are “gone”? I makes it easy for me to do the math.
So, 15 billion ghosts divided by 15 billion acres of land equals 1 ghost per acre… at least.
So why are people traveling all over to investigate ghosts?
Isn’t there at least one right next to you?
5 Myths People Tend to Believe about Paranormal Research… because of Television and Movies
5. Demons are everywhere.
Over the past 10 years, demons must have been working overtime. It seems like everyone everywhere is either being attacked by a demonic force or is possessed by one. Talking to researchers, priests and historians, it seems that cases of what many people believe to be “demonic” energies or beings is actually very uncommon. Although the Vatican itself will not acknowledge an actual number of cases that they become involved with, by researching where and when they will confirm priests to perform exorcisms we find that perhaps the number might be somewhere between 10 and 20 cases a year world-wide. Now, remember the Vatican has unlimited funds and time to investigate cases and yet they find throughout the world only 10 to 20 cases a year that need intervention. So why does every ghost hunting team find a demon? Why are exorcisms and deliverances being performed almost nightly on paranormal reality television shows? Mostly because people don’t truly understand what is actually involved during an alleged demonic possession or when a supposedly demonic force is manifesting itself. As a side note, most people who call themselves “demonologists” don’t even understand what that word traditionally means (see this post) Sorry, but it’s true.
4. EVP is a relatively new process.
Experimenting with Direct Voice, Electronic Voice Phenomena and other forms of I.T.C. has been around for as long as the technology to perform it has been around. Pioneers, like Jungerson, started honing their skills and research methodologies close to 70 years ago. Even equipment like the “ghost box” has its origins with inventors like Thomas Edison. It’s not a new process and unfortunately many researchers are unaware of the decades worth of documentation, data and evidence on how and why the process is supposed to work. Here’s a tip: Long ago, EVP researchers determined that if you can only hear an understandable voice because of manipulation to the recording, then the evidence is no good, so try again.
3. Screaming at a ghost is a great way to get a response.
In my last post, “Come at me ghost,” I looked at ways that “provoking” probably isn’t a wonderful form of investigating. Put as plainly as possible, when someone I know, who is alive, starts yelling at me I’m pretty likely to not respond.
2. Psychics/Mediums are needed to investigate.
Throughout the past 20 years I have utilized persons who regard themselves as “psychic” or “mediumistic” to act as additional tools during research. Unfortunately, psychic power is part of the paranormal phenomena which we as researchers are supposed to be investigating. Using paranormal phenomena to explain paranormal phenomena is like getting lost in the forest and then asking yourself for directions out of the forest. Again, I have no problem asking someone if they can confirm or deny information, but then I will have to confirm or deny what they are telling me. Then I will have to study the psychic to figure out how they have received that information. Psychics/Mediums, in my opinion, should be treated as a piece of equipment to further your research, but only after all accepted/traditional forms of research and investigation are exhausted.
1. Investigation happens at night.
Ghosts probably don’t wear watches. It’s more than likely that if there is a spirit realm, time does not exist in a way that we, the living, understand. Television producers know that humans have an inherent fear of the dark, so most of the time research and investigation is shown taking place only or mostly at night. In all honesty most of the “research” that should be taking place can only happen during the day because places like libraries and court houses are only open during the day. Also, interviewing people usually has to take place during daylight hours, since most people are usually asleep at night. On-site investigations should take place during all times of the day to allow the researcher to see when the activity in a location is most energetic… plus during the day you don’t have to stumble around a dark unfamiliar house… and bang your shins, because that really hurts.
6 things you will most likely not see me do on TV. (or anywhere else for that matter)
6. I will not wear a baseball hat in a client’s home or during an investigation. Although I am balding, and self-conscious of it, I, personally, do not feel that baseball hats represent a professional attitude while performing an investigation. Additionally, you will never see me wearing a t-shirt with a ghost, skull, bat or gravestone on it. My clothing will reflect the professional nature of my attitude toward investigations. I may dress comfortably but I will not look like I just came from a rock concert.
5. I will not dress up in costumes. I know that some researchers believe “getting into the spirit” of the spirits helps during an investigation but I do not think that way. The chances of seeing me dressed as a civil war solider or a turn-of-the-century barber are the same as seeing me with a sheet over my head…zero.
4. I will not deal in absolutes. Paranormal research is a speculative field. The theories that are in the process of evolving will keep me from saying “This is absolutely a ghost” or “This can only be Demon.” When you start stating that you “know” without a doubt that something has to be a certain way you are setting yourself up to be wrong. Even this list isn’t for certain, but it’s pretty close.
3. I will not yell at ghosts. If ghosts are real they do not exist as we do, meaning, they don’t have physical bodies which have ears that pick up sound vibrations and convert it to electrical impulses which are then interpreted by a brain into sound. If research has shown us anything it is that the non-corporal communicate through vocalisation and auditory abilities are difficult. Screaming and yelling should work just as well as normal voice levels or whispers. Also, even if I postulate that an entity is “mean” or “evil” I have no assurance that my assumption is correct. In our day-to-day lives we often misinterpret “anger” with confusion and “maliciousness” for fear. The last thing I want to do is scream at something/person/spirit which may already be frightened and confused.
2. I will not be afraid that a “ghost” “demon” or any other spirit is going to kill me. Over the past 20 years I have been placed in some harrowing situations and have always been unharmed. My mental stability and faith in my abilities to deal with unknown situations provides me with a level of comfort wherein I will not be afraid that I will be killed by a paranormal entity.
1. I will not, ever, consume alcohol near, during, around or immediately before or after an investigation. The field of paranormal research is already subject to scorn and ridicule by the “accepted” scientific community. We must perform above and beyond professional standards if we expect to be taken seriously. Anyone who thinks it’s funny or acceptable to drink alcohol while in the midst of an investigation is doing an incredible disservice to hard-working paranormal investigators everywhere who have struggled for decades to make paranormal research a respected field of research.
These opinions are mine and I know everyone has different ideas on how investigations should happen. Hopefully though we can agree that the paranormal community has become overrun by individuals that are more concerned with being rockstars than researchers. Remember, it’s about the data, evidence and helping people to feel more secure in their day-to-day lives.
On July 7th 2009 I received an email, the subject line of which read “Producer looking for talent”. After I read the message I laughed and marked it as spam. A few hours later I looked at the email again and typed the producer’s name into Google. The first return was from IMDB and I realized that this email was not spam. I sent a reply and after two or three brief emails I was asked to drive to Indiana and meet a young team of paranormal investigators they were called Hoosier State Paranormal. It had been a month since I received the original email and I was surprised that something was actually going to happen. Being involved in the paranormal community for over 20 years I was happily accepting of my choice to simply research, investigate and lecture. Now I had been given the opportunity to teach.
Over the past 2 decades I had increased my knowledge, but after meeting the team in Indiana I realized I had lost my overwhelming passion for the topics I had loved for so long. The Hoosiers reignited that fire. Driving home after that first meeting all I could do was smile. I had made friends with some very wonderful people, people who inspired a jaded old researcher. If nothing else happened I had still come out on top of the game. Family and friends are the only thing that really matter. That saying sounds old, it is, it sounds trite, it is, but it is true, and sometimes has to be re-learned.
Things kept happening.
Before I knew it, it was today. The day a television show would air and people all around the country would have the opportunity to not only watch a new paranormal tv show but they would also have the chance to increase their circle of friends and family. We, the Hoosiers and I, have worked hard to get the word out. Many people are upset because they assume the show is one thing or another. We did not have huge budgets to promote the show we paid for everything out of our pockets. We did not have a huge community of people subscribed to mailing lists, we had friends and family. We drove to events hoping they had free food since we were using our money to pay for gas. We asked our friends to talk to their friends and spread the word. The response was amazing. 1300 friends on Facebook in 15 days. Hundreds if not thousands of “tweets” and emails. I am overwhelmed.
Driving home that day in August a year ago I knew I was on the right track because I had made new friends.
Now over a year later I look at everything everyone has done and I know we’re all on the right track because we, (Facebook friends, Twitter followers, everyone) have extended our families.
I cannot thank you enough.
Please overlook my poor grammar and punctuation errors I am writing fast and am exhausted. I know you will understand, family always does.
Driving through the neighborhoods at Halloween time our eyes are barraged by fake tombstones, giant inflatable grim reapers and foam body parts. All of this can be good fun, but in all reality we must ask ourselves, “Is it scary?” The answer is a simple, “no.” When I was growing up the scariest house on the block was the old abandon bungalow–grass overgrown, windows boarded up and a front porch that you dare never go on to. That house was Halloween all year around. The fright and horror came not from a bloody skeleton hanging on the front door but the imagined skeleton that just might be lying in the shuttered living room. As a person who has been in hundreds, if not thousands, of alleged haunted houses, buildings and cemeteries, I am happy to share with you 10 tips for creating a really frightening, perhaps horrifically traumatizing, stop for the trick-or-treaters in your neighborhood.
10. Don’t mow the lawn. I don’t mean don’t ever mow it, but if your neighbors are willing to put up with a lawn covered in fake fencing and plastic gravestones you should be able to get away with not mowing your lawn for 3 or 4 weeks. Overgrown lawns provide a feeling of disrepair and abandonment.
9. Your porch should be red or orange. Replacing that bright white bulb with a red or orange bulb still shows you are home while providing enough light for the kids to get up the porch. Red and orange lights also create unnatural shadow colors which can evoke feelings of uneasiness. Blue and green bulbs are recognized as totally unnatural light colors. It looks like you’re making an effort to be different, which negates the feeling of disregard you’ve built up with the unkept lawn.
8. Carve your jack-o-lanterns poorly. No one wants to see an R2D2 jack-o-lantern, except the kid dressed as Asajj Ventress or General Grievous, or Darth Vader for those of you don’t watch Clone Wars. A jack-o-lantern is supposed to be creepy. Think of it as a glowing light in the middle of a swamp, think of a face trying to scare away ghosts and spirits, but don’t get too crazy with the design. Stay simple with the concept; it makes the face ten times scarier.
7. Leave the screen door shut but the front door open. With all of the initial unease “treaters” will feel walking up to your house, an open front door will create a parallel psychological thought pattern. Since open doors are a sign of welcome the brain’s conceptualization of unknowing and knowing will compete for dominance, causing internal feelings of confusion.
6. Turn off the lights in your house. One or two candles in the living room far away from the front door will be perfect. This should be a no brainer. As soon as kids see a house all lit up, they know people are in there having Halloween fun. The fact that you have a porch light on but no other lights is very disconcerting. If your living room is totally lit up all horror rushes away from the “treaters” as they see the normal interior of your home. In the dim light of candle glow, shadows bounce and flicker, creating a world of unfamiliar shapes inside your house.
5. Play classical or orchestral music. Most kids these days only hear classical or orchestral music in a few places: religious ceremonies, weddings, funerals, and horror movies. As a plus, a lot of kids associate classical music with old people. Aside from their grandparents–sometimes including them–most kids are confused or even scared of old people.
4. Make them have patience. When you hear “Trick or treat!” don’t run to the door. Walk …slowly. And walk from another room. If you must be doing something, why not sit in another room watching TV or playing on the internet, sans lights. Let them see you coming, but make them wait. As you open the door of the room you are sitting in and meander down the hallway, the glow from your TV or computer can add some neat lighting effects as it shines and flashes behind you.
3. Don’t talk. If you must say something when you walk to the door say “Treat.” Most people strike up conversations and ask questions about the costumes. Kids don’t care. They are there for the candy and to be scared. They have asked you, “Trick or Treat?” and you should answer them, “Treat.” Trust me, it’s creepy.
2. Don’t let them see what you are giving them. It’s extra creepy to produce the “treat” from a suit coat pocket or purse. Retrieve the treat and hold it entirely in the hand away from curious eyes until you’ve placed it in the “treater’s” bag. Or have your treats just lying on a table out of view, or anywhere but a giant bowl. Don’t let them see what the treat is. Just let them feel it hit the bottom of the bag.
1. Don’t underestimate the power of subtlety. Horror comes from the unknown. We all harbor some fear of the dark or the unfamiliar. Children have a heightened sense of strangeness because things are still new to them and so much is still unknown. When kids leave your front porch whispering to each other, “what was that all about?” or “dude, that was weird” you can rest assured that they will be talking the next day about the creepy house they went to on Halloween. Your house.
2010 Most Haunted Cities in Michigan – Detroit Tops The List
Oct .1, 2010
ROYAL OAK, Mich. — To help citizens enjoy their Halloween season, Paranormal researcher John E.L. Tenney of WeirdLectures.com has once again identified Michigan’s Top 10 most haunted cities.
“The top 10 cities include places for the believers and skeptics, living or otherwise,” says John E.L. Tenney, founder of WeirdLectures.com. Tenney’s organization collects and compiles e-mails, news stories, letters, and historical documents to create the list. “People are not only interested in understanding paranormal phenomena in their community,” he says, “but they use those experiences to connect with neighbors and other residents and share in a new kind of oral history.” The real excitement in these haunted cities, Tenney says, comes from exploring them in person and absorbing their histories.
Every year, some citizens worry needlessly about the list, which has become a “rite” of the Halloween season. But not to fear, Tenney says. “The only thing some residents are really afraid of is if this list will effect the marketablity and value of the homes in their community. The reality of the situation is that researchers and scientists would pay anything to get their hands on a truly haunted house.”
The 2010 Top 10 Haunted Michigan Cities (2009 rankings in parentheses)
1. Detroit (6)
2. Traverse City (4)
3. Kalamazoo (1)
4. Jackson (8)
5. Hamtramck (7)
6. Troy (2)
7. Flint (3)
8. Lansing (10)
9. Ann Arbor (5)
10. Warren (-)
WeirdLectures.com is dedicated to the cataloging of mysterious places and events that have their home in Michigan. Information is compiled and collected from a vast number of resources, researchers, and writings. Some of the information this year came from over 1100 emails, 100 personal interviews and 50 private investigations. Every year, on October 1, Weird Lectures releases a list of the 10 most haunted cities in Michigan. www.weirdlectures.com
The 2009 Top 10 Haunted Michigan Cities (2008 rankings in parentheses)
1. Kalamazoo (3)
2. Troy (1)
3. Flint (6)
4. Traverse City (2)
5. Ann Arbor (5)
6. Detroit (4)
7. Hamtramck (-)
8. Jackson (9)
9. Sterling Heights (-)
10. Lansing (-)
WeirdLectures.com is dedicated to the cataloging mysterious places and events that have their home in Michigan. Information is compiled and collected from a vast number of resources, researchers, and writings. Every year, on October 1, Weird Lectures releases, in association with The Great Lakes Ghost Society, a list of the 10 most haunted cities in Michigan. www.weirdlectures.com